Rudan lashes officials as Bulls pip WSW, Gauci’s dream move, City struggling
Another action-packed weekend was bookended by a 4-3 thriller in Sydney’s southwest while Melbourne City’s struggles continued, we saw another coaching change and the Mariners just keep on rolling.
Here are your A-League Round 15 talking points.
Bulls pip Wanderers in classic
Pre-game it seemed there was a bit more buzz around this Western Sydney clash, and thanks to some common sense from the decision-makers at the APL, a reasonably healthy gallery witnessed a very entertaining game of football.
After a six-goal first half, it was Valere Germain who sealed the three points for Macarthur late on, completing his hat-trick in the process. Despite the later kick-off time it was still sweltering at Campbelltown Stadium as both sides struggled to deal with the conditions. The scoreline could also be attributed to some pretty questionable defending.
It was a drama-filled evening, and never one to shy away from the spotlight, Marko Rudan delivered an explosive press conference in which he opined there is a “stigma” attached to the Wanderers. It’s quite the claim that will presumably have raised some eyebrows among the powers that be.
Only the officials themselves know for sure, but I’d be surprised if any referee has conscious bias against a particular side in the league. Rudan perhaps will come to rue his choice of words, but it’s hard to deny he’s the most entertaining manager in the league. He brings an element of excitement that few coaches in the history of the league have managed to.
In a league devoid of meaningful rivalries and spite, A-League fans can only hope this ‘Sydney Derby’ will develop into something a bit more adversarial than its current state.
Glory late show sinks struggling City
Melbourne City have been meandering along in 2023-24, hovering closer to the fringes of the top six than the top of the table, and their latest defeat to the undermanned Glory was another low point. It was always going to be a challenge for new manager Aurelio Vidmar to get his squad back into title contention after Rado Vidosic’s somewhat abrupt dismissal but even still, the league’s most affluent club are not living up to expectations.
The signings of Jimmy Jeggo and returning star Marco Tilio should make City formidable heading into the business end of the season, despite their poor current form. After suffering an injury in pre-season Tilio never got a look in at Celtic Park, which has also affected his Asian Cup campaign for the Socceroos.
Credit to Alen Stajcic, who’s extracting pretty much every last drop of energy out of this Perth squad. Despite still sitting second to last on the A-League table, Glory are only six points out of the finals places. With his hand basically forced, Stajcic has been blooding some unheralded youth and it’s paid off; Joel Anasmo’s strike sealed the win on Friday night, prompting wild scenes in the Shed.
They are lacking quality across the pitch but it is too early to say Perth are incapable of causing some havoc as we approach the business end of the season.
Gauci earns Premier League move
Another rising star is off to the bright lights of European football, with Joe Gauci completing a dream move to Premier League surprise packet Aston Villa. Gauci joins former teammate Nestor Irankunda in making the switch to a world-class club. These sales have netted Adelaide United millions of dollars in transfer fees, laying out the blueprint for other A-League clubs who may be struggling to stay in the black.
The Birmingham side already have an undisputed No.1 gloveman in World Cup winner Emi Martinez, and the Argentinian’s spot is certainly not under any immediate threat. This is an ambitious choice by the 23-year-old, no doubt about it.
Gauci will presumably be given the opportunity to supplant backup Robin Olsen, who’s only managed a handful of appearance for the club over two years at Villa Park. In fact, the Swede has only made one appearance in the EPL this campaign, though he was out injured for some time. It’s difficult for me not to draw a parallel with Mitchell Langerak’s situation at Borussia Dortmund, however.
Langerak’s magnificent form for Melbourne Victory was rewarded by a move to Signal Iduna Park, but being stuck behind the evergreen Roman Weidenfeller limited him to a measly 19 appearances with the German giants. The 31-year-old Martinez may only now be hitting his prime years, so it’ll be a mighty task for Gauci to usurp him in the pecking order.
-Angel Torres and the Mariners are looking formidable. Mark Jackson truly has done a masterful job turning around the Gosford side’s fortunes.
-Best wishes to Ben Cahn, who has stepped away from Brisbane Roar for health reasons. It’s another disruption to a Roar campaign that started so brightly under Ross Aloisi, and now they’re onto a fourth manager in 2023-24.
-Football Australia’s data leak was quite comprehensive. It’s one thing to suffer a cyberattack like Optus did, but this was just plain old incompetence and seemingly wouldn’t have even been discovered had it not been for a cyber security website’s intervention.
-It was a harsh way for the Socceroos to bow out of the Asian Cup at the quarter-final stage. On paper it’s no great shame to go down to South Korea but Australia should’ve been able to close the game out.